And here we are, the final day of my Dopey Challenge recap posts.
I also sent out a super exciting email on Tuesday to my newsletter subscribers, so if you missed that, you may want to sign up to keep in the loop!
Since it takes a while to cover marathons, I thought I’d talk briefly about how I recovered between races, since I doubt this will be interesting once you’re finished the post 🙂
I had an appointment with my naturopath the day before I left for Florida. I also started coming down with a cold that day (I’m still fighting with a lingering cough). We discussed my blood panel results and then talked about how to manage my lack of running leading up to the race.
We agreed on the following protocol:
- Ice baths after races (I only succeeded in doing this after the half and the full)
- Anti-inflammatories as needed (I won’t take any anti-inflammatory immediately before a run, but I did take one before bed and after each of the runs)
- Magnesium for muscle soreness – I took this before bed, but be aware that magnesium can result in some undesirable side effects
- Turmeric to combat inflammation
- Foam rolling before bed. This was probably the most painful part of the recovery process, but I’m a big believer in rolled and made sure to roll my quads and my feet each day.
- Taping my legs. I followed the application technique of my physiotherapist and applied KT tape, more as a precautionary measure, for all of the races.
In addition to the running-related recovery, I also took NyQuil to sleep (knowing I have to wake up in 5 years means I don’t generally sleep well) and Dristan before bed so I could breathe through my nose.
I think having a clearly defined protocol for recovery really helped me to make it through the races. My goal really was to not get injured and to have fun, and I’m pretty confident in saying I succeeded.
On marathon morning, Ann woke up to drop Katie and I off at the start line while we let the other gals sleep in. We were hoping to meet up around mile 19 or 20 at the Wide World of Sports as that seemed to be about the only place we’d be able to see them without them needing to pay for a ticket into one of the parks.
Katie and I made sure to grab a picture together before making our way to the corrals. And then we waited. They were sending them off much quicker than the previous two days, about 3-5 minutes apart and by 6:10 we were crossing the start line to
run walk shuffle a marathon.
We really didn’t have much of a plan other than to finish, and maybe, if time permitted, hop on a ride or two. (Sadly, we didn’t feel like we had enough of a buffer to ride Expedition Everest, but I will one day!)
We generally kept about 1-and-1 intervals through the first 6 miles. We’d run longer if we had walked through a water station, but the intervals kept us relatively fresh (or so we hoped).
Once we entered the Magic Kingdom, we veered off to find a bathroom and then did the get-my-pants-on-dance because did I mention it was 97% humidity that day? Ew.
We stopped for an epic jumping picture,
found a dragon,
and continued on our way.
After we left the Magic Kingdom our walk breaks were getting longer and longer, so we decided we were going to walk, and then run when we saw people cheering us on, so it didn’t look like we were walking a marathon (which we were).
At about 7 miles, we heard the obnoxious radio DJ announce the balloon ladies were about 23 minutes behind the group and we thought we might want to do some more shuffle running, just in case this was true (it turned out it was).
Then we decided we didn’t want to run anymore and started walking, checking to make sure our mile splits were in the 15-16 minute/mile range.
Somewhere around mile 10 (or maybe 11?) we entered Animal Kingdom (home of Expedition Everest) and met the lovely animals they brought out for us.
This was also when we made it a goal to follow our friends with their Irish accents in their amazing outfits.
We hit the half marathon timing pad as we were exiting Animal Kingdom and began the never-ending trek to the Wide World of Sports. Before we entered the Wide World of Sports all the runners needed to move to the side of the road to let a motorcade go by that was leading an ambulance. The dude in front of us whipped out his camera and took pictures. Why yes, I was quite vocal in telling him just how rude and classless that was.
I’d be warned that this part of the race could be pretty bleak and man, the twists and turns and never-ending-ness of that part was not fun.
I also decided that should we find real bathrooms, I was going to take the opportunity for a pit stop, because continuing on another 10 miles didn’t sound super fun to me.
I was also texting Ann our location so they could try to time when to meet us. I knew once we entered the baseball stadium we’d be on our way out and on to Hollywood Studios, so when Ann told me they were stuck in traffic, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing them.
Then three things happened around the same time, I looked back and saw the balloon ladies entering the stadium, Katie and I started running (we probably had about 5-10 minutes on them, but still!) and I saw a group of girls running across the parking lot and waving. THEY WERE OUR GIRLS.
THEY WERE OUR GIRLS!
Holy moly. It was so freaking amazing to see these girls. I so needed that boost right there. Running through Wide World of Sports was absolutely the black part of my marathon (marathoners will know exactly what this is), so seeing them was a breath of fresh air. And? We were down to 6 miles to go.
WE COULD SHUFFLE SIX MILES.
And we did.
We moved on to 30-30 intervals for a mile and then walked half a mile. Then we did 3-30 for a mile and a half and we were at mile 22 and only had 4 miles to go. WE KNEW WE COULD RUN 4 MILES.
— Ange @ Cowgirl Runs (@cowgirlruns) January 10, 2016
AND THEN WE HIT THE MILE WHERE THEY WERE PLAYING JOURNEY.
We drove past this in the morning, and they were playing music, but I’d completely forgotten about it and I was dang excited when we got there.
Then we were entering Hollywood Studios! We ran through the lights flashing disco tunnel and ate our chocolate and then ran through the crowds because we needed to make it look like we were running and not walking a marathon.
From there we hit the Boardwalk and were told by a nice volunteer that we just passed the last sweep point. WE WERE GOING TO DO THE THING.
We alternated between walking and running on the Boardwalk. Enjoyed a beer, and were just so ecstatic that we were actually going to finish.
Yes! Beer!! 🍻 pic.twitter.com/UE3Lkl1Oh6
— Ange @ Cowgirl Runs (@cowgirlruns) January 10, 2016
It was a grind to get through the miles at Epcot, and we decided once we hit that 26 mile marker, we were running through the finish (though I use the term run loosely, here).
At some point (mile 24? 25?) Ann sent me a picture of the beer they had waiting for us at the finish. WE WERE GOING TO GET BEERS TOO!
I most definitely teared up running through the finishers chute and had to focus on breathing and not hyperventilating or crying as we finished.
Then we had medals. And clothes. And Powerade. And more medals. And pictures. And food. AND THEN OUR FRIENDS.
I’m pretty certain I wasn’t coherent when we finished. I drank up the beer and declared to Ann that I would not be doing the Dopey Challenge again.
Now that I’ve had a week, I miiiiight consider it again. Way off in the future. When I’m actually trained for a marathon.
I’m a solid middle-of-the-pack runner. I’ll never win a race, and it’s highly unlikely I’ll age group place unless it’s a really small race, so this was my first experience being in the back of the pack.
It really is different.
For one, you know you’re near the end. They’re starting to clean up the water stations. One station around mile 21 was out of Powerade and it just feels emptier.
The volunteers were amazing. Never once did I feel like they were tired of standing outside and handing us water, Powerade, bananas, etc.
Even through this marathon took 7.5 hours, it was still a far better experience than the Minneapolis Marathon (I’ll stop talking about how awful it was eventually. Maybe).
I’m so glad I chose to run with Katie for this race. I really don’t think I would have enjoyed walking in 97% humidity for 7.5 hours if I had decided to do this myself. If I did this alone, I’m pretty certain I’d have strongly debated sitting down and quitting.
[Tweet “A MARATHON of a recap! Come read #DopeyChallenge part 3!”]
And there you have it – the final installment of the Dopey Challenge.
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